The Croxton Bandroom was in seated ‘theatre’ mode this evening, arranged thus for the believers who had come to bear witness to a living legend. Roy Ayers holds a unique position in music, having achieved mainstream success in the late 1970s while bridging the gap between jazz, funk and disco in a style that was entirely his own. Now 76 years old, Ayers’ voice has retained its honey-like qualities, even if his range is not what it once was. Although his large stature ensured that he remained the focus of attention throughout tonight’s performance, he gave off the air of someone who is both humble and grateful to still be doing what he does. The audience were attentive and encouraging throughout the set, which dipped into Ayers’ back catalogue but remained laid back and jazzy throughout.
Although Ayers was undoubtedly the star of the show, his backing band were an absolute treat to behold, with the keys player in particular dazzling with extended Rhodes solos in many of the songs. Not to be outshone, Ayers himself provided multiple examples of why he is one of the most famous vibraphone players in the world today, effortlessly sweeping the mallets over his instrument with grace and restraint.
Classics from his mid-70s output were featured heavily including Red, Black & Green and Running Away, which was a particular highlight and featured a very funky keytar solo. However, the biggest applause was reserved for what is undoubtedly Ayers’ best known composition, Everybody Loves The Sunshine. The band stretched the tune out for several times longer than its four minute recording, with each player taking solos and injecting an extra element of energy to a room that was already buzzing with appreciation.
Although you might expect a man of Ayers’ years to require some private time after putting on such a show, the man and his band stuck around long after the lights had come up, happily meeting fans and signing albums.
Photograph by Zo Damage
Originally published in Beat Magazine